Mimi ON Oct 11, 2012 AT 9:05 am
by Chrissy Iley
I was taking my shoes to be re-heeled at the best shoe repairers in the country, possibly the world, Classic Shoes in Brecknock Road, Camden. It’s not just me that thinks that – it’s Emma Hope, Jimmy Choo, Mr Louboutin – when I noticed a new shop next door.
Called The Third Estate it advertised in its window vegetarian shoes, the notion of which is quite comical. I do have some shoes that I think of as pets. I stroke them talk to them, feel that they have a soul. But the idea that a pair of shoes should be falafel eating and couscous loving seemed odd enough to lure me further.
It’s a friendly shop, as in eco-friendly, with clothes made from vintage material, upcycling it’s called, which is a kind of upmarket recycling, and some pretty 1940s/50s style frocks made from original textile patterns.
But it’s the shoe collection that’s the most interesting, and more so the men’s than the women’s but we’ll come to that in a minute. The men’ display features some very convincing brogues and Doc Martens style air boots. One particular style brogue boot in an appealing grey green vintagy colour was made from the same textile used in yacht sails – strong, weather proof, with the appearance of suede – but there was nothing plasticky about it. The feel and look was excellent and obviously no animals were endangered in its being and it was a reasonable £80.
The women’s styles just showed me what a huge gap there is in the non-leather shoe market. Apart from the women’s version of the men’s shoes – desert boots and All Saints style lace up boot – and the ethically made Converse style athletic shoe, the women’s shoes are quite limited in their stylishness.
Stella McCartney makes high fashion usually uncomfortable high priced non-leather footwear. Cri de Coeur is New York based and another non-leather brand, also expensive. The prices in Third Estate start from about £30, but some of the styles are the flat square Mary Janes that girl school gym teachers might have worn in the 1980s, the ones that look like plastic pasties. A couple of the heeled brogues could be doable, but one style came only in tan. What happened to Leona Lewis and her range of stylish bags and shoes that weren’t made from animals?
Everything else about the store is perfect for its demographic. If you are an animal loving man who wants salad-loving shoes, The Third Estate is the place for you.
If you have aspirations as a shoe designer and like non-leather fabrics, seize the moment.
The Third Estate, 27 Brecknock Road, London N7 0BT. Tel: 020 3620 2361 . www.thethirdestate.co.uk